Bruce Mate received his Ph.D. from University of Oregon in 1973, figuring out the migration habits of California sea lions in the eastern North Pacific and did a NIH post-doc at Oregon State University (OSU) in Biochemistry examining the way pinnipeds detoxify methyl-mercury. He is an endowed professor at Oregon State, where he has been on the Oceanography and/or Fish & Wildlife faculties for 41 years.
Pioneering the development of Argos satellite-monitored radio tag technology for large whales with ONR support, his research on the migration routes and seasonal distributions of 17 populations of seven different endangered species has been conducted in every ocean. As an early adopter of the Argos system, his teams have helped miniaturize tags and develop best practices for trans-cutaneous tags. He has personally tagged over 600 whales and says every project has changed a long-held conventional “wisdom” for each species.
Mate is the founding Director of OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute (MMI) at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. He and a multi-disciplinary faculty specialize in diving physiology, foraging behavior, spatial ecology, genetics, habitat characterization and modeling to improve conservation and management practices. Tags are important tools for identifying stock structure and reducing anthropogenic threats. Recent tag deployments have provided detailed month-long records of sperm whales foraging on deep water squids and shallower krill-eating blue whales.